On any other day, Rothin Shaw, 27, is a human resource partner in a semiconductor company. On Friday, he will transform into an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, a character from his favourite gaming franchise, Halo.
Shaw and hundreds of other cosplayers are participating in the Delhi chapter of Comic Con at the NSIC Exhibition Complex from Friday to Sunday. In 2015, 2,500 cosplayers (the term used for costumed players, a Comic Con tradition) had registered for the competition with the Delhi edition, which received a footfall of 30,000 attendees. This year, the numbers are expected to increase.
Less than a week before his transformation, Shaw was tense. “Cosplay is not childish or weird, people think it’s just adults playing dress up, it’s not,” he said. “Cosplay is serious business. The amount of hard work and dedication that goes into making the whole character, the props, the suit, the fine details, they are all a way of expressing what a cosplayer feels. It’s as awesome as singing, or painting or any other art form.”
Shaw’s workshop consisted of a table with electronic tools, such as a glue gun and a serious Dremel tool used for sanding. Even though this is his first year making and wearing a costume to Comic Con, Shaw took the metamorphosis seriously, beginning work on it in July. He made his costume with Ethylene-vinyl acetate foam sheets worth Rs 700 from Delhi’s leather market in Karol Bagh.
“I have always been a fan of science fiction and cosplay, armours in particular, and as this was my first cosplay, I wanted to do something fairly easy but still a little challenging,” Shaw said. “Something that I could relate to. I have grown up playing video games and it was not easy to pick a single character whose costume I wanted to don.”
Some months ago, when Shaw was still undecided, he had considered going as Master Chief, another character from the video game Halo. He worked on the character’s helmet in August through September. But dropped the idea because, as he said, he procrastinated. “Something every cosplayer will relate to,” Shaw said.
While Shaw’s body armour was ready five weeks ago, he only got around to spray-painting it, using acrylic metallic grey and blue paints, last week. For his prop, a pair of guns, he took the help of 2015’s Delhi Comic Con cosplay winner Abhishek Choudhary.
Abhishek Chaudhary’s love for design – which got him his job as the Lead Interaction Designer at naukri.com – resulted in him trying out his hand at cosplay prop-making.
“I came across a cosplay channel on YouTube called Punished Props,” he said. “Before that I used to make superhero masks using cardboard or paper, as an after-work activity which I loved to do apart from my job.”
Chaudhary enjoys making things with his hands, something he does not get to do at work where he designs websites and user interfaces. He is only able to find time for his hobby on weekends, but he makes sure he does.
Chaudhary won the Delhi Comic Con in 2015, when he dressed up as Commander Shepard from the video game Mass Effect and travelled to the Beijing Comic Con.
“Right now I’m working on my Batman armour from Batman Vs Superman – Dawn of Justice for the Delhi Comic Con 2016,” said Chaudhary. Like Shaw, the 29-year-old is also a fan of armours, and like Shaw, he started working on his costume a few months ago. “This is the third costume I’m working on, and they have all have been armours.”
Chaudhary said he also enjoys the sense of community that cosplaying offers. “The process is like solving a puzzle in which you explore different tips and tricks from fellow cosplayers.”
Building something from scratch, according to Chaudhary, makes him feel like a god, although perhaps, the analogy of a mother would be more appropriate: “After all, every project is your baby!” he said, with a laugh.
Sriniketh R, 26, said he was initiated into the art of cosplay by his friends, most of whom are women. The Bengaluru-based 2D digital animator has been cosplaying since the first Bangalore Comic Con in 2012, and this will be his first time participating in the Capital.
“I’ve decided to do very simple and casual cosplays,” he said. “One of them is a gender-bending version of Chloe Price from the game Life is Strange, and the other is also a feminine version of Tracer from the game Overwatch.”
Sriniketh prefers “gender-bending”, or dressing as female characters – something Tokyo Comic Con had once banned.
“I’ve fallen in love with cosplaying and cosplay in general,” he said. But while Sriniketh thinks cosplaying is fun, he agrees that it can be extremely exhausting and sometimes painful too.
In particular, Sriniketh hates the fact that harassment is routine for female cosplayers. “Cosplay does not mean consent. One must always respect cosplayers, their props and and costumes, and their space. Being a jerk is not tolerated. Always be kind. Keep calm and cosplay on.”